A jet of red light had shot from the end of Bellatrix Lestrange's wand, but Malfoy had deflected it; his spell caused hers to hit the shelf a foot to the left of Harry and several of the glass orbs there shattered.
Two figures, pearly-white as ghosts, fluid as smoke, unfurled themselves from the fragments of broken glass upon the floor and each began to speak; their voices vied with each other, so that only fragments of what they were saying could be heard over Malfoy and Bellatrix's shouts.
‘... at the solstice will come a new ...’ said the figure of an old, bearded man.
‘DO NOT ATTACK! WE NEED THE PROPHECY!’
‘He dared—he dares—’ shrieked Bellatrix incoherently, ‘he stands there—filthy half-blood —’
‘WAIT UN'I'LL WE'VE GOT THE PROPHECY!’ bawled Malfoy.
‘... and none will come after ...’ said the figure of a young woman.
The two figures that had burst from the shattered spheres had melted into thin air. Nothing remained of them or their erstwhile homes but fragments of glass upon the floor. They had, however, given Harry an idea. The problem was going to be conveying it to the others.
‘You haven't told me what's so special about this prophecy I'm supposed to be handing over,’ he said, playing for time. He moved his foot slowly sideways, feeling around for someone else's.
‘Do not play games with us, Potter,’ said Malfoy.
‘I'm not playing games,’ said Harry, half his mind on the conversation, half on his wandering foot. And then he found someone's toes and pressed down upon them. A sharp intake of breath behind him told him they were Hermione's.
‘What?’ she whispered.
‘Dumbledore never told you the reason you bear that scar was hidden in the bowels of the Department of Mysteries?’ Malfoy sneered.
‘I—what?’ said Harry. And for a moment he quite forgot his plan. ‘What about my scar?’
‘What?’ whispered Hermione more urgently behind him.
‘Can this be?’ said Malfoy, sounding maliciously delighted; some of the Death Eaters were laughing again, and under cover of their laughter, Harry hissed to Hermione, moving his lips as little as possible, ‘Smash shelves—’
‘Dumbledore never told you?’ Malfoy repeated. ‘Well, this explains why you didn't come earlier, Potter, the Dark Lord wondered why—’
‘—when I say now— ’
‘—you didn't come running when he showed you the place where it was hidden in your dreams. He thought natural curiosity would make you want to hear the exact wording ...’
‘Did he?’ said Harry. Behind him he felt rather than heard Hermione passing his message to the others and he sought to keep talking, to distract the Death Eaters. ‘So he wanted me to come and get it, did he? Why?’
‘Why?’ Malfoy sounded incredulously delighted. ‘Because the only people who are permitted to retrieve a prophecy from the Department of Mysteries, Potter, are those about whom it was made, as the Dark Lord discovered when he attempted to use others to steal it for him.’